Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trust in God

It seems there is always so much to say when I try and organize what to write! are some updates from what's happenning here in Zambia. We were excited to have Jami-lyn and Dave Ryan, Pastor Chuck from Ghana, and P.Scibelli come over for a conference. We all gathered at the airport at an ungodly hour in the morning with all the African pastors here in Zambia with a banner which said "Welcome Pastor Scibelli-the father of Africa!" and as he came out we started singing one of the Zambian worship was hilarious cause the other people coming out of the airport were looking at us like we were from a different planet! It was great :) Anyway, having Pastor Scibelli here has been a great blessing and refreshment to all the churches here in Zambia. A couple days ago we all piled ( and when I say piled I mean PILED) on a small bus to travel to Kitwe ( a city about 5 hours from Lusaka) to visit P.Adam and Melinda. Once we got to Kitwe we went straight to the streets for evangelism, and then met later for a rap with P. Scibelli. The couple days spent in Kitwe were a great blessing, and a great encouragement to P.Adam and Melinda. Oh and just for good measure, as we were leaving the Methodist guest house (where we had our raps and where P.Scibelli was staying) one of the African pastors jumped on the bus laughing and saying how he and the others had just killed two black mumbas...which is one of the most poisonous snakes in Africa. We all looked at eachother in disbelief thanking God that we hadn't come in contact with it, since us Americans would have probably just fainted or something. So, P.Scibelli is still in Kitwe, and in a few days we will all take a trip over to South Africa to be with P.Manny and the church there, which I am very excited about!

On a different note there were just some thoughts God has been sharing with me that I'd like to share as I've been thinking about P.Scibelli's messages and reading about the life of Job...There is this poem I read today that shares some of what God has been showing here it is.

“He sat by a fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore,
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.
He knew He had ore that could stand the test,
And He wanted the finest gold
To mould as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems with a price untold.
So He laid our gold in the burning fire
Tho’ we fain would have said Him ‘Nay,’
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
And it melted and passed away.
And the gold grew brighter and yet more bright,
But our eyes were so dim with tears,
We saw but the fire—not the Master’s hand,
And questioned with anxious fears.
Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a form above,
That bent o’er the fire, tho’ unseen by us,
With a look of ineffable love.
Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause us a moment’s pain?
Ah, no! but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.
So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat,
Than was needed to make it pure.”

The book of Job is filled with questions, and pleadings from a man who could not understand the ways of His God. Job 33:13 says “Why do you contend against Him? For He does not give an account for any of His actions.” God did not explain to Job what had taken place in eternity concerning him. You find in Job's story that trust in God must supersede our natural longing for understanding. As long as we are searching for understanding outside of an illumination and impartation from God we will be completely unable to trust in God. We find in our lives that there are times when God does not explain himself or else his plan to refine our faith would be compromised.

Abraham in Heb 11:8 “…Went out not knowing where He was going..” Trusting in God sometimes means I don’t have the understanding my natural man longs for, and as long as I stand on the precipice of natural understanding I will never obey God’s call to faith, and enjoy the peace which comes in trusting God. God does not disclose his plan when he wants us to walk in faith or else it would be sight and no longer faith. Understanding can be a vain pursuit in a trial. If I am pursuing understanding in my trial I will be like Job “darkening counsel by words without knowledge…rashly uttering what I do not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I do not know.” Man yearns for the type of security which comes through having everything explained and understood, but God calls us to a security which is found in knowing Him, while the things in my life (for seasons at a time, some longer than others) are not explained and I don’t understand what is happening or what God is doing. God baffles my understanding so that I will find my security in trusting Him, receiving from Him, and waiting on Him. As long as we search after understanding in the trial of our faith, we can never experience rest and peace. God offers us a “peace that surpasses all understanding, and a love that passes knowledge.” Trusting in God means I don’t always know or understand, but that I know HIM and that is enough for me. This is God’s character on trial in my life…Is God trustworthy, trustworthy enough that I don’t need to know or understand? When Abraham was told to offer his son, did he understand? No, not at all, he simply “concluded that God was able to raise Isaac up even from the dead.” Faith requires trust, and without trust I cannot obey what God commands for me. To trust I must relinquish my longing for understanding..the longing that is lusting against faith…”anything that is not of faith is sin.” Understanding and explanations will come, but in the trial of my faith they are an enemy to trusting in God for they lock the door which opens to God. Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all your ways and He shall direct your paths.”

We sense everyday in a trial that our soul is cleaving to the dust of the circumstance we cannot change or understand, but God's word lifts us up into heavenly places, seated above with Christ. We learn to relinquish natural understanding and settle in our minds that trusting God means that we don’t understand and we don’t have all things explained to us, but it is in those times where God is asking us to trust in His character and His word. Leaning on our own understanding is a vicious cycle that leads us nowhere, but trusting in the Lord will lead me into a broad place where I find peace and rest while I wait on God. Psa 66:12 “You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; But you brought us out to rich fulfillment. God does not leave us in the trial just as God did not leave Job in his…weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning. BUT in the time when our faith in God’s character is on trial, to trust Him we must relinquish our yearning and longing for understanding because it will only trap us in doubt and unbelief. Understanding will come, but not until God sees fit. Trust Him when we don’t understand, when things are inexplicable, that is the preciousness and value of our faith in God…I remember Elisabeth Elliot said that "our faith works in the dark. So, we let go of trying to understand, seeking explanations; for trust in God requires of us to let go of those things and cling to the hand of God…walking in the dark, but finding that true security is found in clasping His hand. Like a child with his father, be content to know He is holding my hand and he will lead us out to the light.

Hope this wasn't tooo long! I am just so blessed that God speaks to us when we are seeking a word from Him! I love you all and will post some more pictures when I get a chance!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Way to Life..

These are the two girls I met on outreach who have recently accepted Christ and are now on the worship team! The girl on the left is Justina and Chelisita is in the middle.

The teen girls from Greater Grace Zambia

So It's Thursday evening here in Lusaka, and I have officially had my first encounter with a Zambian Hospital :( I've been sick for a few days and this morning we decided to take a trip to a local hospital here to find out what was wrong..nothing too bad, just an infection which gave me a fever the last few days, but i should be on the mend now! BUT since the last couple days I've been a bit out of commission and for the most part stuck in the house, I decided to take a taxi to the local internet spot here in Lusaka to read for a bit. Even here, where there are churches on every corner, I felt the eyes of everyone around me as I took out my Bible, and started reading. Not even ten minutes into reading I had a guy from Ireland come over and, of course, as he was approaching me I was reaching for my chocolate milkshake (with much excitement :) and I was so startled from his tap on my shoulder that I spit it all over myself and him! haha...oh boy I made quite the first impression! Anyway, he said that he had come over to ask me a question about a Bible verse that his friend had told him about not long ago, but couldn't remember it. He said he saw that I was reading the Bible so we started to try and find the verse he was talking about. This led into a very interesting conversation about God, as he is from Ireland and has had a lot of "religious influence" in his life, but he said he's always had a difficult time really making a conclusion about the whole thing. As we were talking he said that he had read many Christian authors, including C.S. Lewis but confessed that it was his pride that has kept him from really believing. We talked for some time, and I left him with this verse "He who keeps his life will lose it, and He who will lose His life will find it." As we were talking I could see in him a desire to believe but, like all of us, he harbored so much doubt and unbelief about the way of salvation through what Christ did. After he left I remembered that earlier that day God had put the story of Naaman on my heart from 2 Kings 5 to read, and before he came over I had started reading the story...which after meeting this young man seems that much more applicable. So the story goes like this...

Naaman is described as a "great and honorable man" who was also a mighty man of valor, but was plagued with leprosy. One day he heard from one of his maids that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal him of his leprosy. So, with this information he had the King of Syria send a letter to the King of Israel that he would be coming to have his leprosy healed. The King of Israel responds, "Am I God, to kill and make heal this man of his leprosy?" So, enters the prophet Elisha who heard Naaman had requested this of the King. So, Elisha sends back word for the King to send Naaman to him. So, Naaman comes to the door of Elisha's house, and Elisha doesn't even come out to greet him, but rather sends a messanger to Naaman with this word...

"Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean." At this word Naaman was irrate, for the Jordan River was known to be the most filthy river in Israel, and to be told to dip in it seven times was not just an insult but complete foolishness to him. Naaman declared to the messanger that couldn't he dip in one of the other rivers of Israel, wouldn't they be more suitable then the filth of the Jordan? And shouldn't Elisha at least come out to me and call on the name of God and wave his hand over me and I would be healed? So as Naaman was about to leave his servant stopped him and said, Wouldn't you have done anything, even a great and difficult thing to be healed of your leprosy, and the prophet simply asks you to dip in the Jordan and you refuse? So, Naaman heeds the words of his servants, dips in the river seven times and it says that "his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean..."

So, after speaking with this guy I thought that the way of salvation through Christ looks much like the way Naaman was told to be cleansed from his leprosy. The cross was messy, it looked foolish..the law even stated "cursed was anyone who hung on a tree". The way of salvation through faith on Christ looks like complete foolishness, and our natural man hates it...we think it should be a more "sophisticated way, a more glamourous way" but the way God chose to redeem man was through the complete humiliation and death of His Son. We tell people this..and its foolishness to them, and they walk away saying it must be a better way. But the moment Naaman dipped in the river he was "restored and cleansed". And the moment we believe in the work of the cross by faith we are restored and cleansed. I Corinthians 1 talks about how the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are saved it is the power of God...The cross is the foolish thing that has put to shame the wise, and the weak thing that has put to shame the thing that was mighty...that no flesh should glory in His presence...Just like at the point of salvation it looks like complete foolishness to believe, God asks us time and time again to put our trust in Him when it looks and feels like complete foolishness to do so...but when we do we find peace and freedom. Its never the way we think it should go, it's God's way...but God's way always leads to that we could never secure for ourselves.
Sooo I could go on and on but I just wanted to share that thought with you all!
Below I'm gonna post some pics of outreach and a recent baptism we had!
Love and miss you all!!

The Baptism with the Greater Grace Churches in Zambia

Pastor Joe Roche and a couple of the Zambian guys

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Adventures of our new home...

Wow! Time is just flying right by here in Zambia. It will be a month that I have been here in just a couple days..amazing! Well, God has shown Himself so incredibly faithful with providing Carol and I a new home!! We did some serious newspaper searching and when it was God's time he swung the doors open for our new home (literally ;) Its really amazing how God works because when we called to inquire on the house advertised it was way too expensive but the man said "Well, I wasn't planning on renting our other house, but I would like to show it to you." So, anyway to make a long story short, the landlord had been dumping money into the small house (which we are in) in the hopes that HE would be moving into it, but when he met us he said that he prayed and sensed God was leading him to rent it to us, and HE would look for another place to live instead! He also has two daughters that are very interested in Bible School...P. Renaldo said the other day at Bible School that the plan of God is for you but always beyond you! I really sensed that in this!

So, yesterday we got to our new house and started right to cleaning and I jumped right on cleaning the floors..So after about four or five hours of cleaning I looked at my hands and noticed that they were all swollen and red...I was like hmmm that definitely does not look normal..So, I asked Carol to look at my hands, and right when she did her eyes bugged out of her head! I was like "Oh God what's wrong with my hands!" She said, "Ummm, Barbara, what cleaning products did you use?" and I was like, "well I used this one and bleach?" She was like "Oh my God, you used ammonia and bleach together?!" I was like.."ummmm yea?" So, I had a nice little chemical reaction on my hands and they blew up for a few word to the wise...don't mix your chemicals (unless I am just the only one who doesn't know that..which is very possible! :) So, along with the chemical reactions, last night we got home from shopping to discover the MOTHERLOAD of cockroaches!! It was like a whole tribe of them! So, while Carol was chanting "Oh my God, I can't handle this, I can't handle this", I attempted to spray and squash them while screaming and jumping up and down...oh yea it was a sight. But aside from the bugs and the chemicals the house God has given us is so beautiful and we are so thankful for it!

Soulwinning, church and Bible School has been such a joy...I met two girls on the street a couple weeks ago and they came to church and accepted Christ, and have joined the worship team! They are so sweet and the church is having a baptism this Saturday and we'll be going together so they can get baptized! You really see this is God's work...we are just the privileged vessels to carry the message of grace. In the Bible School classes we are studying the book of Romans and Galatians...P. Renaldo is an amazing teacher! I feel as though I am hearing about grace for the first time...I realize how little I this earth we truly will only scratch the surface of the unsearchable riches of God's grace. I was thinking of the verse in Hebrews the other day which says "It is good for the heart to be established in grace..." And God started speaking to me about what His grace really means in relation to every other area of my life..especially my walk of faith....

God is teaching me that to walk by faith I must live a life of grace. Faith says “I’m trusting another to do what I am unable to do”, and grace is the way and the means by which God accomplishes His plan. That is the reason why God has to bring His people to places of “human impossibility”. If there were options which were available to us that, if we tried them it could fulfill God’s plan then we would certainly try them. But God wants me at a place where there are no more options but to trust God to fulfill His promises. I'm also learning that impossibility is the most important element to enlarge my capacity of faith and also in learning grace. We were “dead in our trespasses and sins.” Eph 2:4 “But God..” Grace is given when there has been an offense, a hurt, an insult; not when the person has treated me fairly. If fairness was a prerequisite for grace then it would cease to be grace. Grace is revealed when we are unable to be something, fix something, or change something. If the heart is established in grace it will not be “driven or tossed or carried about.." Unbelief comes or has an affect on the heart which is not firmly established in grace. I am seeing the need to be rooted and grounded in grace and God’s love so that when the winds and waves of unbelief and doubt come we won't have to be so shaken.

It's amazing cause Grace reveals our complete inability and then gives us the divine resources of God’s strength to walk in something we could never do! As our hearts are established in grace we will not be unbelieving, but believing (our faith will be strengthened). As our hearts are established in grace we will receive more grace because we're living in humility...we'll have roots to keep us grounded when the winds and waves of unbelief and doubt come..we'll be able to love beyond all human capacities to love...we can forgive the unforgivable. Grace is the key to appropriating all the attributes of God in our lives, and the only thing that can deliver us and keep us from a heart of unbelief. Praise God for His grace!

So I love you all and hope everything is going well at home!